12/02/2011 9:13 PM
Toronto Marlies 3 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 6
Dec. 2, 2011
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – After falling behind 2-0 in the early going, the Grand Rapids Griffins roared back for an impressive 6-3 win over the Toronto Marlies on Friday at Van Andel Arena, beating the North Division leaders for the second time in four nights and the third time in as many tries this season.
Powered by three-point efforts from Francis Pare and rookie Louis-Marc Aubry, the Griffins broke the Marlies’ eight-game point streak – after snapping Toronto’s six-game winning streak with Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime victory at Ricoh Coliseum – and improved to 7-2 within the North Division. Grand Rapids (9-11-1-0), which has won consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 29-Nov. 2, will try to post its first three-game winning streak since March 12-16 when the Chicago Wolves pay a 7 p.m. visit to Van Andel Arena on Saturday.
The Marlies (12-6-3-1) scored twice before the game was 11 minutes old. An unmarked Ryan Hamilton put a backhand past Tom McCollum at 6:29, and reigning AHL Player of the Month Nazem Kadri batted a puck out of the air from the goalmouth at 10:44. But Toronto was unable to take its full lead into the locker room, as a turnover deep in the Marlies’ zone quickly became a 4-on-1 in front of netminder Jussi Rynnas, and Brendan Smith finished off a tic-tac-toe play by potting Pare’s feed at the right post with just 11 ticks remaining in the period.
Grand Rapids needed only 2:04 of the second period to forge a 2-2 tie, with Jamie Johnson scoring his team-leading 11th goal of the season from close range off a rebound. A pair of penalties to Doug Janik gave the Marlies a four-minute power play opportunity that they used to retake the lead on Marcel Mueller’s redirection of a Kadri centering pass at 7:05, but the Griffins again responded at 8:44 when Aubry collected the rebound of Garnet Exelby’s shot and slammed the puck home from the doorstep during a power play to make it a 3-3 contest.
Janik made up for his earlier transgressions by giving the Griffins their first lead of the night at 15:01, firing his slap shot from the point past a screened Rynnas. He then helped set up the power play goal that put Grand Rapids ahead by a 5-3 count 9:17 into the third period, as Pare moved around his defender and lifted a beautiful shot into the top of the net from the left hashmarks.
Adam Estoclet accounted for the final margin with 4:20 remaining, pulling up on the rush and scoring his first AHL goal from the left circle.
Thanks to their largest goal output at Van Andel Arena since their 2009-10 home finale – a 6-1 win over Lake Erie on April 9, 2010 – the Griffins have totaled 23 goals in their last five games overall and 19 goals in their last four home outings.
McCollum, who has won three of his last four games and helped the Griffins earn points in four of his last five appearances, finished with 23 saves to post his first two-game winning streak since Oct. 23-24, 2010. Rynnas made 27 stops in defeat.
Three Stars: 1. GR Aubry (power play goal, two assists); 2. GR Pare (power play goal, two assists); 3. GR Smith (goal, assist)